Omio News Blog

Monthly Archives: April 2012

Samsung Galaxy S2 Flash Sale From Three UK, £25 Per Month

UK network Three have stuck up a quick sale on the evergreen Samsung Galaxy S2, offering the handset with 500 minutes, 5000 texts and all-you-can-surf data for just £25 per month and a £29 up front cost.

With the offer ending at midnight on the 30th of April, there’s a little while left to jump aboard the Android train…just before the heavily-rumoured Galaxy S3 pulls into the station.

Grab the deal here.

Smartphone Popularity Finally Overtakes Feature Phones In Japan

Japan has always been…unique when it comes to mobiles, and some interesting stats are showing the island nation is warming to the idea of the smartphone.

New data out of number-cruching outfit ComScore shows that Japan bought more smartphones than feature-packed ‘dumb’ phones for the first time ever in the three months leading up to February 2012, with 1 in 5 now owning a souped-up mobile device.

The most popular handset maker out there is Sharp, with 23.5% of the 4,000 folks surveyed owning a handset from the Japanese electronics manufacturer.

More interesting still is the split between operating systems, with Android accounting for a whopping 61.4% of the market and Apple’s iOS making up 34.2%.

 

Having leveraged Google’s Android and their own LCD display-making nous, Sharp’s AQUOS series of handsets have proved enduringly popular, followed by Panasonic (13.8%), Fujitsu (11.8%), NEC (9.7%) and Sony (7.5%), the top five entirely ruled by Japanese firms.

Apple may be in eighth place in Japan and enjoying a relatively meagre 6.5% market share, but they were also the biggest climbers, with a 1.6% gain on November 2011.

Windows Phone is on a slight slide in contrast, dropping from 5.7% to 3.9% within the same period.

With Panasonic and Fujitsu both pledging to make the leap into international mobile markets this year (the former’s Eluga device already available to buy in the UK), how long before we see Sharp making a concerted effort to topple the likes of Apple on US soil?

via Textually

Apple Store Now Selling Unlocked iPhones On Pay As You Go

Apple are offering a new way to get your hands on the iPhone, selling Pay As You Go deals on unlocked handsets directly from the UK online store – but only until May 9th.

Deals on the Apple Store seem to be available across the 3GS, iPhone 4 and 4S on three of the UK’s leading mobile networks – Vodafone, Three and O2 – with them offering an unlocked handset and bundling your choice of 30-day SIM card pre-loaded with minutes, texts and data, making it ready for calling and Facepoking right out of the box.

Each network is offering a slightly different prepay deal:

Three300 minutes, 3000 texts, unlimited data – £15

O2£10 ‘call credit’, 300 texts, 500MB data – £10

Vodafone300 minutes, 3000 texts, 500MB data – £20

It’s also interesting to note that O2′s offer is not available on the ageing iPhone 3GS.

With prepay iPhones usually locked when purchased from providers, getting it straight from the Apple Store would be the best way to grab a handset, not stress about a credit check and still be free to use any network.

Obviously, the option to go it alone with a SIM-free deal is also available.

The prices are pretty much on a parity – with an iPhone 4S 16GB at £499, for example – then sticking a prepay top-up onto the cost.

Whilst the Apple Store prepay offer is a time-limited trial for a couple of weeks, it will be interesting to see if many consumers opt for an all-in-one solution over the popular pay monthly method…buying your iPhone up front is indeed the cheapest way to do it if you do the maths

Samsung Galaxy S3 on Vodafone – specs leak as network shouts first?


With the Samsung Galaxy S3 less than ten days away from an official ‘Mobile Unpacked 2012′ launch event on May 3rd, the Koreans are struggling to keep the proverbial cat in the bag after a flurry of tantalising leaks recently.

Vodafone have also anounced via website that they will be stocking the follow up to the Galaxy S2.

Samsung have been stoking the PR flames with a website and video at its site www.thenextgalaxy.com.

The teaser trailer for the May 3rd event is all orchestral swells and ‘nudge-nudge, wink-wink’ statements about fitting the ‘entire galaxy in your hand’.

The vid also takes a massive swipe at the competition, claiming that their new handset will ‘make you stand out from everybody else’ and showing a field of bleating sheep.


Vodafone are the first UK carrier to announce the upcoming availability of the ‘Next Galaxy handset’, which is quite clearly the S3 and are letting customers register interest, and sign up for updates on availability here.

Meanwhile the German Amazon site put a page up for the Galaxy S3 that, whilst having no images for the handset, does give a sim-free price of €599 alongside a few technical specifications.

The site, which has tellingly not been taken down, reveals a 4.7″ Super AMOLED screen, a 12MP camera and the Android’s latest ‘Ice Cream Sandwich’ flavoured OS.

Previously last Friday, Vietnamese tech site and reputable leakers Tinhte posted a video showing off a phone that purported to be a leaked Galaxy S3. A scan of the system profile showed that it was running a quad-core 1.4Ghz processor.

The handset did appear to be contained in a fairly generic case, so could have either been disguised to keep the final looks under wraps, as is common practice, or an earlier prototype model, a possibility as it appears to only have an 8MP camera.

Whilst the video was soon removed at Samsung’s request, Engadget did manage to salvage a copy of the video before the takedown, which is viewable here.

The Samsung Galaxy S3 was notably absent from the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona earlier this year.

There were rumours of a production delay, but with increasing suggestions of an iPhone 5 being readied for July release, and the ongoing feud between the two companies, it could be that the two mobile heavyweights are gearing up for a serious head to head battle this summer.

The first match up saw Apple’s iPhone 4S beaten by the Galaxy S2, in the UK at least.

The follow up battle will be hotly anticipated and will no doubt rise to levels of hype that would make Don King blush.

Stay tuned for upcoming information on the Samsung Galaxy S3 via Omio deals page.

HTC Sensation XE ‘Lite’ Edition Scraps Pack-In Beats Headphones, Lowers Pay Monthly Cost

Wow, that was quick.

Mere weeks after Taiwanese manufacturer HTC said they would cease packing Beats by Dre headphones in with future devices, UK handset retailer BuyMobilePhones has already taken stock of revamped HTC Sensation XEs sans in-ear audio goodness.

The image above shows the new official HTC Sensation XE packaging (right) alongside the original Beats by Dre edition of the sizable smartphone, with the vendor dubbing it the ‘Lite’ edition and shaving a few quid off the monthly cost in the process.

You can see that the ‘Beats Audio’ branding – nor the headphones – are anywhere to be seen on the box, whilst the custom Beats wallpaper pictured on the Sensation XE has now been replaced with a stock Sense swirl of colours.

Word from BMP is that the device within is physically identical to the original XE and is still boasting Beats technology hardware-wise, just not shouting about it so loudly this time…also that this leaner package is available now.

It is all but certain the original HTC Sensation XE bundle is being phased out for this new cost-effective model to buoy a phone maker facing tough financial times, as well as stiff smartphone competition from the likes of Sony and Samsung.

The HTC Sensation XE with Beats Audio is still available for free from £18.50 per month on various networks, but the canny retailer has also created some canny custom bundles by combining the stripped-down ‘Lite’ with pricier Beats Solo or Beats Studio headphones…effectively sweetening the deal for Android-loving audiophiles.

Despite word that recent corporate shuffles – CFO Winston Yung (said to have been instrumental in HTC’s $300m majority stake investment in the ‘Beats’ brand) being sent off into corporate development – have nothing to do with a costly foray into accessory territory, such a swift cost-cutting exercise does illustrate plans to shift the company into a stronger direction for 2012.

Sony XPERIA P Release Date and Price Revealed, Contract Deals Available Soon

The Sony XPERIA P will be released in the UK on May 7th 2012, initially sim-free via Clove for £330, and Expansys for £339.  Contract deals are available on Omio’s deals page now via buymobiles.net.  More deals will show up as the release date closes.

The Android handset is looking pretty shiny with a precision crafted aluminium unibody, and a 4” touchscreen that utilises Sony’s ultra-bright, ultra-crisp ‘Whitemagic’ technology.

Sony have also been pushing a novel yet practical use for the built in Near Field Communications, the same technology used in transport swipe ticketing, such as London’s Oyster cards.  Sony have developed Smart Tags, dongle like devices that you can hang in your car, home or office, that enable you to quickly change custom settings as you move from one area to another, which will no doubt kill those annoying scrambles to switch on bluetooth & GPS every time you get in the car.

The relatively slim 1GHz dual core processor won’t break any speed records, but may give some allowance for battery life.  The 8MP camera with Exmor R image processing should make all your snaps look gorgeous, and you’ve got a respectable 16GB of storage for pics video’s and music.

DLNA built-in will mean you can wirelessly beam video and images to compatible screens effortlessly. Full specs are available here. The handset will ship with the relatively antiquated ‘Gingerbread’ flavour Android 2.3, although Sony are promising a hop, skip and a jump of an upgrade to Android 4 ‘Ice Cream Sandwich’ in Q2 (so around the summer).

The XPERIA P sits in the mid-range of Sony’s NXT series of handsets, just below the more powerful Xperia S which is available now. The payoff with the XPERIA P is that you can get a great looking handset without breaking the bank!

You can bag yourself an off contract pre-order today, via Clove and Expansys. If you’re after an on-contract deal, keep an eye on the Omio deals page.

Apple & Samsung Ordered By Judge to Sit Down And Sort It Out Like Grown Ups

It could be that an end is in sight to the ongoing ugly legal fight between Apple and Samsung, a messy high profile battle that is part of the a wider ‘patent wars’ in the tech industry.  The tech world has resembled something like pub brawl at kicking out time of late, with patent rights being bought and sold as weapons for the courtrooms.  The Apple vs Samsung match up even saw Samsung’s flagship Galaxy Tab banned for a while in Europe after accusations of similarities with the iPad, and influenced a hardware re-design to the American version of the Samsung Galaxy S2.

Now Samsung and Apple representatives have been ordered to the office of Judge Joseph C Spero, who will no doubt to sit them down and give them a jolly good piece of his mind.  Both Apple CEO Tim Cook and Samsung CEO will be attending, probably both looking at the floor, shuffling their feet nervously.

Twitter have even waved a white flag, calling for a patent truce and telling everyone to ‘just get along’. The Innovators Patent Agreement is a call for a non aggression pact, that would effectively mean that patents could only be invoked legally for defensive purposes.   

But why the beef? Despite the bitter slug fest in the courts, Apple and Samsung do a remarkable amount of business together.  Samsung not only provide the New Ipad’s high resolution ‘Retina Display’ but also the custom A4 and A5 microprocessors in the iPhone 4S and iPad.  Most see this as being more to do with Steve Job’s vow to destroy Google’s Android mobile operating system. 

Google and Apple used to be quite pally, but Google’s entry into the mobile market was seen as an arch betrayal by Google CEO Eric Schmidt, who had simultaneously sat on the Apple board of directors as Android was being developed in secret.  Jobs afterwards vowed he was ‘willing to go thermonuclear war’ in order to sink Android, and his company since targeted high profile Android devices, such as Samsung’s also exceptionally popular handsets and tablets.

The court meeting, to be held within the next 90 days, should give us an idea about how much this vendetta lives on in the Post-Jobs Apple organisation, and hopefully draw to a close a messy chapter in the patent wars.

Amplifiear: Kickstarter Project Wants To Bring Better Audio To The iPad

One of the black marks on the Apple iPad’s otherwise exemplary record is the disappointing audio output from the sole mono speaker on the rear of the device.

In an effort to bring a better sound to your tablet, a lightweight accessory dubbed ‘Amplifiear’ aims to reflect and amplify audio in an aim to boost the quality of the iPad’s standard speaker.

Another Kickstarter darling that has just broken its goal of $10,000 of funding, Amplifiear uses a simple and elegant design that clips onto the iPad and has already garnered plenty of interest.

Available at a preliminary price of $15 to those pledging funds, the Amplifiear comes in a variety of colours and looks every inch the minimalist iPhone accessory.

Expect to see it in stores before long, and take a look at it in action below.

We attempted to emulate the effect with an iPhone in a cup…which was good, but perhaps not as much as the real deal.

 Source: Kickstarter via LikeCool

 

Three UK Refreshes iPhone Deals, Pits Pricing Against Other Networks With Comparison Table

Mobile network Three UK has shunted around their selection of new Essential and Ultimate tariffs, offering a narrower range of deals for the Apple iPhone 4 and 16GB model of the iPhone 4S.

In order to ‘give the customer and easier choice and in turn a…simpler journey’, the Essential and Ultimate 100 and 300 tariffs have been dropped in favour of a starting package of £31 per month for the 4S, offering 500 minutes, 5000 texts and 250MB with a £49 upfront cost.

In fact, Three are so confident in their new iPhone pricing that they have constructed a comparison table that sizes themselves up against deals from the other major networks.

Check it out here.

BlackBerry Curve 9220 Launches In India, RIM Takes Aim At Developing World

Nokia is not the only manufacturer tapping into an explosion of smartphone interest in the developing world, with RIM unveiling the BlackBerry Curve 9220 for the Indian market.

An incremental upgrade on the BlackBerry Curve 8520 and powered by OS 7.1, the Curve 9220 is equipped with all of the familiar entry-level features including a 2-megapixel rear camera and 2.4-inch QVGA screen alongside a full QWERTY keyboard, although possessing solely 2G connectivity.

WiFi and a built-in radio are both on board, whilst the 9220 has a unique selling point in having the longest battery life for a Curve smartphone at 7 hours talktime, with 28 hours of music playback.

“The new BlackBerry Curve 9220 offers a unique mobile experience that young Indians will love thanks to its affordable pricing and unmatched messaging and social connectivity features,” said Sunil Dutt, Managing Director for India at RIM.

In an effort to also induce engagement with BlackBerry App World, the Curve 9220 comes with an offer to download 2500 Rupees worth of content (about £30) for free, up until the end of June.

Available from April 19th at a cost of Rs10,990 (£133), the Curve 9220 might seem steep against the current crop of feature-rich Android smartphones, but it may well serve the enduring popularity of BlackBerry as a brand in other parts of the world.